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Up Top Down Under—Alice Springs to Darwin

Valid for all trips departing January 1st, 2013 - December 31st, 2013 Last Updated: March 18, 2014
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Introduction

Skip the long bus drive and ride the rails through the scenic outback before heading into the remote Kakadu region for three days. Geared towards budget-conscious travellers who want to make the most of their time, this itinerary includes the highlights of the Red Centre and Top End. Here you’ll meet some of the locals, experience the mysteries of Uluru and gain insight into regional Aboriginal and European history.

  • Riding the route of Afghan cameleers on the Ghan Train
  • Gaining insight to Aboriginal art and culture
  • Spotting crocs by boat in Kakadu National Park
  • Discovering secret swimming holes and waterfalls in Litchfield National Park
Duration: 6 days
Start/Finish City: Alice Springs to Darwin
Service Level: Basic
  • Excellent value, amazing prices, quality experiences
  • Simple and clean hotels, guesthouses and hostels chosen for location and character
  • Affordable public and private transport for maximum cultural interaction
  • Plenty of optional activities tailored to your interests and budget
Physical Grading: 3
Trips may include activities like hiking, biking, rafting or kayaking. No sweat, right?
Travel Style: Yolo
Adventures for 18 to thirty somethings

Designed for young, budget-minded travellers, Yolo trips maximize time and money by squeezing the most out of a destination. This ain't your typical big-bus tour, though. Small groups, insider access and personal freedom to follow the whim of the moment are the order of the day, every day.

Trip Type: Small Group
Group trips average 12 travellers per departure, depending on the adventure. The maximum is usually no more than 16, but some can be smaller or bigger, depending on the trip. Check individual trips for details.

Itinerary

Route map for Up Top Down Under - Alice Springs to Darwin (OARD)

Day 1 Alice Springs

Arrive in Alice Springs at any time. There are no planned activities during the day, so check into the hotel and explore the town. Please try to arrive before 6pm for an important group welcome meeting where you can meet the Chief Experience Officer (CEO) and the other group members. If you arrive early enough, you'll have time to relax and wonder around the central base for the Red Centre.

Day 2 The Ghan Train (1B)

Free day to explore Alice Springs. Embark on The Ghan Train at approximately 6pm. Our seats are two-abreast reclining chairs that can swivel to face each other if you'd like to socialize. The overnight train is comfortable and there is a café on board where you can buy meals. Sit back and enjoy the scenery pass by as the train travels from the Red Centre to the Top End of Australia.

There are no power outlets on the train, so make sure all your gadgets are fully charged and ready to go!

Estimated travel time: 15 hours
Travel distance: 1,489 km

Day 3 Darwin

The Ghan Train makes a stop at Katherine for a 4 hour break. There are a number of activity options to choose from. A transfer to Katherine's Gorge is included and from there feel free to choose the activity that suits you. Opt to simply walk the stunning Katherine Gorge or get adventurous with a flat-bottomed boat or helicopter flight over the gorge. We arrive into Darwin at approximately 5:30pm.

Day 4 Darwin National Park/Kakadu National Park (1L,1D)

Early departure to Corroboree Billabong for an included wildlife and crocodile-spotting cruise. Visit Ubirr to look at the indigenous rock art. Stop at an Aboriginal arts and crafts centre to learn about the ideas behind the creations. Overnight at our campsite near Jim Jim Falls (seasonal from May-October). At Jim Jim Falls there are options to sleep in a tent or outside under the night sky in a swag (canvas bedroll). During the wet season (usually November - April) groups will stay in dorm accommodation (located outside the park) to avoid the rain.

NOTE: The itinerary for this day varies depending on the season. We will visit slightly different attractions depending on the weather conditions.

Estimated travel time: 4 hours
Travel distance: 250 km

Day 5 Kakadu National Park/Litchfield National Park (1B,1L,1D)

Embark early on a full day of exploring. Hike to the top of Twin Falls for great views and an outstanding swimming spot. Walk to Jim Jim Falls and take in the sandstone cliffs while taking time to cool off in the refreshing plunge pools. Travel to our overnight camp near Litchfield, swags (canvas bedrolls) or tents await. End the night with a group BBQ.

NOTE: The itinerary for this day varies depending on the season. During the rainy season the accommodations will be dorm-style and we will visit slightly different attractions depending on the weather conditions.

Estimated travel time: 3 hours
Travel distance: 200 km

Day 6 Litchfield National Park/Darwin (1B,1L)

An early start to take advantage of time in Litchfield National Park. Visit the Wangi, Florence and Tolmer Falls with opportunities to go for a swim. Visit the Buley Rockholes and see the amazing giant termite mounds. Tour ends in Darwin upon arrival in the evening at 6pm. Please book departure flights after 8pm.

Estimated travel time: 2 hours
Travel distance: 170 km

What's Included

Boat cruise for crocodile spotting, Aboriginal art and craft centre visit, exploration of Kakadu National Park and Litchfield National Park.

Highlights

Riding the route of Afghan cameleers on the Ghan Train, gaining insight to Aboriginal art and culture, spotting crocs by boat in Kakadu National Park, discovering secret swimming holes and waterfalls in Litchfield National Park

Dossier Disclaimer

The information in this trip details document has been compiled with care and is provided in good faith. However it is subject to change, and does not form part of the contract between the client and the operator. The itinerary featured is correct at time of printing. It may differ slightly to the one in the brochure. Occasionally our itineraries change as we make improvements that stem from past travellers, comments and our own research. Sometimes it can be a small change like adding an extra meal along the itinerary. Sometimes the change may result in us altering the tour for the coming year. Ultimately, our goal is to provide you with the most rewarding experience. Please note that our brochure is usually released in November each year. If you have booked from the previous brochure you may find there have been some changes to the itinerary.

VERY IMPORTANT: Please ensure that you print a final copy of your Trip Details to review a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans.

Itinerary Disclaimer

While it is our intention to adhere to the route described below, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary, or desirable to make alterations. The itinerary is brief, as we never know exactly where our journey will take us. Due to our style of travel and the regions we visit, travel can be unpredictable. The Trip Details document is a general guide to the tour and region and any mention of specific destinations or wildlife is by no means a guarantee that they will be visited or encountered. Aboard expedition trips visits to research stations depend on final permission.

Additionally, any travel times listed are approximations only and subject to vary due to local circumstances.

Important Notes

1. The itinerary and accommodation in both Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks vary depending on the season. We will visit slightly different attractions depending on the weather conditions.

2. This tour combines with other G Adventures tours. As such, the staff and some travel companions on your tour may have previously been traveling together with G Adventures prior to Day 1 of your tour.

Group Leader Description

This G Adventures group trip is accompanied by one of our group leaders, otherwise known as a Chief Experience Officer (CEO). The CEO will be the group manager, leader and driver - this person is experienced in the routes travelled and will organize and lead the meal preparations and has experience in cooking a variety of local and international dishes for large groups.

As the group coordinator and manager, the aim of the CEO is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the countries visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. They will also offer suggestions for things to do and to see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends.

We also use local guides where we think more specific knowledge will add to the enjoyment of the places we are visiting - we think it's the best of both worlds.

Group Size Notes

Max 18, avg 12

Meals Included

3 Breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners

Meals

Eating is a big part of traveling. Travelling with G Adventures you experience the vast array of wonderful food that is available out in the world. Generally meals are not included in the trip price when there is a choice of eating options, to give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat. It also gives you more budgeting flexibility, though generally food is cheap. Our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There is no obligation to do this though. Your CEO will be able to suggest favourite restaurants during your trip. On truck trips in Africa, aboard the M/S Expedition or our Galapagos yachts, while trekking in remote regions etc. food is included, plentiful and made of fresh local ingredients. The above information applies to G Adventures group trips. For Independent trips please check the itinerary for details of meals included. For all trips please refer to the meals included and budget information for included meals and meal budgets.

Meal Budget

Allow AUD100-150 for meals that are not included.

Transport

Train, 4x4

About our Transportation

On the 4x4 based trips we use purpose-built 16 or 13 seat truck vehicles. They have an air-conditioned customer compartment which is fitted with comfortable coach seats. All seats are forward facing.

On the rail based sections of our trips we use a standard seat, not the sleeping compartment. The trains have have a dinning carriage available.

During the portion of the tour on the Ghan train between Alice Springs and Darwin, larger luggage will be checked in a separate luggage car and inaccessible during the journey. A small to medium day pack is allowed as hand luggage. There is a restaurant on board open late (until 11PM) that has food and drinks for purchase. Outside food is also allowed on board. Blankets and pillows are not provided but may be purchased on board. Please note that there are no outlets on board for charging; be sure to charge any electronic devices prior to boarding.

Solo Travellers

We believe solo travellers should not have to pay more to travel so our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers joining group trips are paired in twin or multi-share accommodation with someone of the same sex for the duration of the trip. Some of our Independent trips are designed differently and solo travellers on these itineraries must pay the single trip price.

Accommodation

Hostel (2nts, some multi-share), camping in 'swag' or tent (2 nts), overnight train (1 nt)

My Own Room

Please note that if you have booked the "My Own Room" option for this tour, you will receive your own single room for all night stops

About Accommodation

Accommodation will be varied throughout your adventure. When camping on this tour, you will have the choice between a tent or the truly Aussie 'swag'—a canvas bedroll with built-in padding and perfect for a night under the stars. We'll have both with us, so mix it up and try out the Aussie way. Please note that tents can be very warm in the summer months, so swags are generally preferred. Towels and soap are not always provided at overnight stops, so it's best to bring your own for bathing. Bathroom and showering facilities are shared and are very rarely en-suite.

Multi-share accommodation (typically 4-6 people per room) is very common in Australia and is the way you will be spending most of your nights. We have specifically chosen unique accommodations to give local flavour to your trip.

Joining Hotel

Annie's Place
4 Traeger Ave
Alice Springs
Northern Territory
Australia
TEL: +61 8 8952 1545

Joining Instructions

By Taxi: $30-40

By Shuttle Bus: $15 pp, 'Alice Wanderer' shuttle bus. Meet outside the terminal. For pre-bookings from within Australia call 1-800-722-111 or book online at http://www.alicewanderer.com.au/32-alice-springs-airport-transfer-shuttle.html

Arrival Complications

We don't expect any problems, and nor should you, but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, please refer to the emergency contact details provided in this dossier and contact us as soon as possible. If you have a pre-booked transfer, and you have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the Starting Point hotel, following the Joining Instructions. Please apply to your travel agent on your return for a refund of the transfer cost if this occurs.

Emergency Contact

Should you need to contact G Adventures during a situation of dire need, it is best to first call our local office in Melbourne. If for any reason you do not receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message and contact information, so we may return your call and assist you as soon as possible.

EMERGENCY CONTACT NUMBERS
G Adventures Local Office (Melbourne)
During office hours, 9am-5pm Local Time
From outside Australia: +61 3 9413 5820
From within Australia: 03 9413 5820

IF YOUR TRIP IS STARTING IN NEW ZEALAND
After office hours emergency number
From outside New Zealand: +64 2 167 7981
From within New Zealand: 02 167 7981

IF YOUR TRIP IS STARTING IN AUSTRALIA
After office hours emergency number
From outside Australia: +61 430 321 725
From within Australia: 0430 321 725

If you are unable for any reason to contact our local operations manager, please call the numbers listed below, which will connect you directly with our 24 hour Sales team, who will happily assist you.

Toll-free, North America only: 1 888 800 4100
Calls from UK: 0844 272 0000
Calls from Germany: 01805 70 90 30 00
Calls from Australia: 1 300 796 618
Calls from New Zealand: 0800 333 307
Outside North America, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and the UK: +1 416 260 0999

Finishing Point Instructions

Any onward travel can be booked for 8pm or later on Day 6.

What to Take

You will be on the move a lot, so our advice is to pack as lightly as possible. We recommend the use of a well-labeled duffel bag, soft bag or backpack (whichever you find easiest to carry). Suitcases or heavy luggage are not recommended for the health of the CEO! A good size day-pack (20-35L) is also essential as you will have the chance to walk and hike in different national parks during these trips. This daypack will be used to carry your personal gear for the day, your lunch and a water bottle.

For days in the outdoors, we recommend the use of lightweight, breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics made of wool or synthetic fibers. Cotton is not recommended for days spent hiking as it does not allow for heat or moisture to enter or escape, and it will not dry easily once wet.

Checklist

Documents:
•Passport (with photocopies)
•Travel insurance (with photocopies)
•Airline tickets (with photocopies)
•AUD cash
•Credit or debit card (see personal spending money)
•G Adventures vouchers, pre-departure information and dossier
•Any entry visas or vaccination certificates required

Suggested Items:
•Light fleece top
•Light windproof/waterproof jacket
•Earplugs (optional)
•Towel
•Swimwear
•Sun hat
•Personal clothing for mild to hot weather (check weather forecast for time of year you'll be visiting)
•Sturdy walking shoes
•Sunblock
•Sunglasses
•Toiletries (biodegradable)
•Watch or alarm clock
•Water bottle
•Money belt
•Flashlight or headlamp
•Camera, memory card(s) and charger
•Electricity plug adapter
•First-aid kit (should contain lip salve, Aspirin, bandaids, anti-histamine,
Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, rehydration powder, insect
repellent, extra prescription drugs you may be taking)

Optional Items: reading/writing material, maps, guidebooks, iPod, iReader

Visas

All countries require a valid passport (with a minimum 6 months validity). Contact your local embassy or consulate for the most up-to-date visa requirements, or see your travel agent. It is your own responsibility to have the correct travel documentation. Visa requirements for your trip will vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. We keep the following information up to date as far as possible, but rules do change and sometimes without warning. While we provide the following information in good faith, it is vital that you check the information yourself and understand that you are fully responsible for your own visa requirements.
A valid passport and visa is required. For some nationalities, the visa can be issued by your Travel Agency or the Australian Embassy via Electronic Travel Authority (ETA).

To apply for an ETA online, travellers must hold a passport from one of the following countries:
- Brunei - Darussalam
- Canada
- Hong Kong
- Japan
- Malaysia
- Singapore
- South Korea
- United States

More information about the ETA and how to apply can be found here:
https://www.eta.immi.gov.au/ETA/etas.jsp

If you do not hold a passport from any of the above countries, you cannot apply for an ETA online. You may be eligible to apply for an ETA through a travel agent, airline or an Australian visa office. Alternatively, you may be eligible to apply for other types of electronic visitor visas. See: www.immi.gov.au

Spending Money

Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.

Money Exchange

The Australian currency is the Australian Dollar (AUD).

Credit cards are accepted almost everywhere in Australia and can be used to purchase small and large items. When purchasing products or services with a foreign credit card you may be charged additional fees by your credit card company for foreign purchases.

Credit cards and debit cards are very useful for cash advances but you must remember to bring your PIN number (be aware that many ATM machines only accept 4-digit PINs). Both Cirrus and Plus system cards are the most widely accepted debit cards. Both Visa and Master Cards are the most widely accepted credit cards. While ATMs are commonly available, there are no guarantees that your credit or debit cards will actually work check with your bank before you travel. A visit to an ATM can be arranged on Day 1 and other days of the trip.

Do not rely on credit or debit cards as your only source of money. A combination of local currency (preferably smaller bills, 5's, 10's and 20's), traveller’s cheques and credit cards is best. Currency exchange is best obtained prior to travel or at the airport, currency exchange is easy to find in Australia in the gateway cities and most banks do accommodate.

Always take more rather than less, as you don't want to spoil the trip by constantly feeling short of funds.

As currency exchange rates can fluctuate often we ask that you refer to the following website for daily exchange rates: www.xe.com

Emergency Fund

Please also make sure you have access to at least an additional USD $200 (or equivalent) as an 'emergency' fund, to be used when circumstances outside our control (ex. a natural disaster) require a change to our planned route. This is a rare occurrence!

Tipping

It is not customary in New Zealand or Australia to tip service providers, but if you do experience outstanding service it is good to do so. Such service would only usually be in places like quality restaurants and it would be very rare that you would tip more than 10%. Unless specifically asked to do so at the time (by your CEO) - do not tip your local guides. Also at the end of each trip if you felt your G Adventures Chief Experience Officer did an outstanding job, you may consider a small tip - but it certainly isn't expected.

Safety and Security

Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe keeping of your passport, air tickets, travellers' cheques, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewelery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of the hotels we use have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. When travelling on a group trip, please note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it deemed necessary, due to safety concerns. Your Chief Experience Officer (CEO) will accompany you on all included activities. During your trip you will have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy and explore at your leisure. While your CEO will assist you with options available in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your itinerary, and we offer no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Although the cities visited on tour are generally safe during the day, there can be risks to wandering throughout any major city at night. It is our recommendation to stay in small groups and to take taxis to and from restaurants, or during night time excursions.

Water based activities have an element of danger and excitement built into them. We recommend only participating in water based activities when accompanied by a guide(s). We make every reasonable effort to ensure the fun and adventurous element of any water based activities (in countries with varying degrees of operating standards), have a balanced approach to safety. It is our policy not to allow our CEOs to make arrangements on your behalf for water based activities that are not accompanied by guide(s).

Swimming, including snorkeling, is always at your own risk. Read more about travel safety for ways to further enhance your personal safety while traveling.

Medical Form

Our small group adventures bring together people of all ages. It is very important you are aware that an average level of fitness and mobility is required to undertake our easiest programs. Travellers must be able to walk without the aid of another person, climb 3-4 flights of stairs, step on and off small boats, and carry their own luggage at a minimum. Travellers with a pre-existing medical condition are required to complete a short medical questionnaire, which must be signed by their physician. This is to ensure that travellers have the necessary fitness and mobility to comfortably complete their chosen trip. While our leaders work hard to ensure that all our travellers are catered for equally, it is not their responsibility to help individuals who cannot complete the day's activities unaided. Please refer to the physical ratings in this Trip Details document for more information.

Please note that all passengers traveling to Antarctica are required to fill out this questionnaire.

The medical questionnaire can be found online at www.gadventures.com/medical-form.

A Couple of Rules

Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on any trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for our travellers. Our philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter, and in particular the local people who make the world the special place it is. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory in order to participate on any of our trips. When travelling on a group trip, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance has been sighted by your leader, who will take note of your insurance details. When selecting a travel insurance policy we require that at a minimum you are covered for medical expenses including emergency evacuation and repatriation. A minimum coverage of USD200,000 is required. G Adventures can provide you with the appropriate coverage. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. If you have credit card insurance we require proof of purchase of the trip (a receipt of credit card statement) with a credit card in your name. Contact your bank for details of their participating insurer, the level of coverage and emergency contact telephone number.

Planeterra-The G Adventures Foundation

Planeterra is G Adventures’ non-profit foundation created to make a positive difference in the communities where G Adventures takes travellers. Planeterra supports sustainable social and environmental solutions in destinations travellers love to visit.

As travellers, it’s natural to want to give back to the places we’ve come to love. But to truly impact poverty, we work to build self-sufficiency, not dependency.

Planeterra partners with grassroots organizations with firsthand knowledge of local culture and true community needs. This ensures that solutions come from the people we support. Then G Adventures brings travellers to visit, fuelling sustainable local income in these communities. This model is helping many rural and marginalized communities on their way to self-sufficiency because they are harnessing the power of the tourism industry as a force for good. G Adventures matches all individual donations and pays all administration costs, which means that 100% of each donation is doubled and goes directly to support our projects. For more information about Planeterra and the projects we support, or to make a donation, please visit planeterra.org.

MAKE EVERY DAY COUNT
Fifty percent of our planet lives on less than $2/day. For the price of a coffee, you can make every day of your trip count by giving back to the communities you visit through Planeterra.

To participate in this program please indicate at the time of booking that you would like to participate in G Adventures’ Dollar-A-Day program, either by clicking the check box online, or by advising your G Adventures specialist or travel agent. (Note: Donation will be charged in the currency of your booking).

Feedback

After your travels, we want to hear from you! Your feedback information is so important to us that we'll give you 5% off the price of your next G Adventures trip if your feedback is completed on-line within 30 days of finishing your trip. Your tour evaluation will be e-mailed to you 24 hours after the conclusion of your trip. If you do not receive the tour evaluation link in the days after your tour has finished, please drop us a line at customerservice@gadventures.com and we will send it on to you.

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Stay current on how our company invests in our global community through our foundation – Planeterra. Sign up for Planeterra's monthly news to learn more about how to give back and support the people and places we love to visit.

Travel Forum - The Watering Hole

Be sure to stop by The Watering Hole, our adventure travel forum. If you're interested in meeting others booked on your upcoming trip, check out the Departure Lounge section of our forum and introduce yourself. Otherwise, just drop in at anytime to share some travel tips, ask questions, meet other travellers and quench your thirst for travel. Our forum is located at wateringhole.gadventures.com.